The World Health Organization (WHO) has released the following definition and further information regarding the Nipah Virus Infection.
What is Nipah Virus?
Nipah virus (NiV) is an emerging zoonotic virus (a virus transmitted to humans from animals). The natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus. In infected people, Nipah virus, with a mortality rate of 40-70 percent, causes a range of illnesses from asymptomatic (subclinical) infection to acute respiratory illness and fatal encephalitis. NiV can also cause severe disease in animals such as pigs, resulting in significant economic losses for farmers.
What are the Symptoms of Nipah Virus in Humans?
- Influenza-like symptoms of fever, headaches, myalgia (muscle pain), vomiting and sore throat
- Dizziness, drowsiness, altered consciousness, and neurological signs that indicate acute encephalitis
- Some experience atypical pneumonia and severe respiratory problems, including acute respiratory distress
- Encephalitis and seizures progressing to coma within 24 to 48 hours
How to treat Nipah?
There is currently no cure or vaccine for Nipah. Intensive supportive care is recommended to treat severe respiratory and neurologic complications.
Preventative measures to help reduce the risk of Nipah Virus infecting people:
- Reducing the risk of bat-to-human transmission: Efforts to prevent transmission should first focus on decreasing bat access to date palm sap and to other fresh food products. Keeping bats away from sap collection sites with protective coverings (e.g., bamboo sap skirts) may be helpful. Freshly collected date palm juice should be boiled and fruits should be thoroughly washed and peeled before consumption.
- Reducing the risk of animal-to-human transmission: Gloves and other protective clothing should be worn while handling sick animals or their tissues, and during slaughtering and culling procedures. As much as possible, people should avoid being in contact with infected pigs.
- Reducing the risk of human-to-human transmission: Close unprotected physical contact with Nipah virus-infected people should be avoided. Regular hand washing should be carried out after caring for or visiting sick people.